The parallels between rocket science and diabetes
Have you ever noticed how syringes look so similar to rockets?
The pointy tip - aerodynamic for both air and skin.
The markings - indicating stages or units.
The fins - providing stability in both applications.
As it turns out diabetes and rocket science really aren't all that different. Both require an in-depth understanding of mathematics - and the reactions or lack thereof to these numbers can mean the difference between life and death. Both require an intense amount of training and self-discipline to remain proficient. Both use a mix of cutting-edge technology and the challenge to do more with what you already have. A rocket scientist is constantly making backup plans for launch slips or equipment malfunctions - sound familiar? The parallels are striking.
Welcome to my life as a rocket scientist living (LIVING!) with T1D. By day I am an aerospace engineer at NASA, and by night I'm a wife, mother of two, piano dabbler, Star Trek fan and spreadsheet queen.
Breaking down barriers
My Aerospace Engineering career began in a triplewide trailer on an Army airfield in Huntsville, AL. Glamorous, right? I was the only female Flight Test Engineer in my group which, lucky for me, meant I got an entire restroom to myself. But before I could hop on those hot rod helicopters I had to get a medical clearance through the Federal Aviation Administration. As a person with Type 1 Diabetes, the process was anything but smooth. It took nearly six months of back-and-forth letters with the FAA before I was finally granted my medical clearance! During my three years at the Aviation Flight Test Directorate I worked to break down T1D-imposed barriers and completed special operations helicopter dunker training, the Army parachute course, certification in the altitude chamber, and clearance to fly on a Navy Saab at the Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Maryland. I also married my rocket scientist husband and finished a Master's degree!
These days you can find me leading teams of engineers working to return humans to the surface of the moon and occasionally working shifts in mission control controlling the attitude of the International Space Station. I'm passionate about sharing my struggles and successes as both a woman in STEM and person with T1D. I believe in using my voice to make positive and meaningful change -- I want to go BOLDLY where no person with T1 has gone before in the hopes it will open the door for those who come next!